Treasury Secretary Henry J. "Hank" Paulson, Jr., leaned forward across the lecturn as he described his year-in-the-making "Blueprint for a Modernized Financial Regulatory Structure". NYT article here; WSJ here.
The Blueprint arrives with passing strange timing. In the midst of market turmoil and calls for stiffer regulation, Mr. Paulson urges . . . strengthening the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets to make recommendations, creating a Mortgage Origination Commission to make more recommendations, and continuing (via the Federal Reserve) to furnish bail-outs, er, "liquidity provisioning" for banking institutions that made supremely stupid investment choices. One gets the feeling that the only real part of this "short term" portion of the Blueprint is the last one.
The Blueprint goes on to recommend middle and long term solutions. Blawgletter’s favorite is the one to abolish state regulation of insurance companies. But a theme permeates the whole stinkin’ document: Preemption, preemption, preemption.
That a former Chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs would support federalization of financial market regulation shouldn’t come as a surprise. But the notion that the ideas will actually strengthen or improve regulatory oversight calls, at first blush, for a big dose of skepticism. Plus we can’t imagine that Mr. Paulson has so little political savvy as to believe that the Blueprint will actually produce any change in the short term. The administration can expand or create all the "Commissions" it wants, and the Fed can keep doing what it’s already started doing (that "liquidity provisioning" thing).
So what was the purpose of announcing, just now, a Blueprint for no changes before January 2009 but huge ones later on?